tv CNN Newsroom CNN December 23, 2009 11:00am-1:00pm EST
the kid and that fear turns into anger and the anger gets transmitted to the kid and the kid is told defend yourself because if you are a punk, people going to try you. >> reporter: the program tries to change that thinking. teaching students leadership skills to help resolve conflicts without fighting. these five teens say it's helping them. >> i learned how to control myself. >> reporter: amber was suspended 15 times for getting into fights during her freshman year. now a junior, she says she's worked hard to keep trouble at bay. >> i start looking at a lot of situations different, i start looking at a lot of fights different. when people coming to me, i be thinking okay, is fighting her really worth it. and it's not even worth it. >> reporter: t.j. holmes, cnn, atlanta. >> many chicago students face the threat of silence simply walking to and from school. so t.j. will take that trip with two of those students tomorrow. i'm fredricka whitfield.
it is wednesday, december 23rd and here are the faces of the stories driving the headlines for you in the "cnn newsroom." michael brewer, a florida teen set on fire in a horrific attack is out of the hospital. an update any moment now on how he is doing. he survived the indian ocean tsunami. he tells how the near-death experience changed his life. and trakr, the hero dog discovered the last survivor at ground zero. now his legacy lives on. good morning, i'm tony harris and you are in the "cnn newsroom." senate democrats counting down and feeling confident about health care reform. the last procedural vote on the senate bill expected to begin in just a few hours. that will set the stage for final passage tomorrow morning. you're weighing in by way of
your ireports. >> it is time now, not any other time, now. keep on debating, keep on working, keep on amending it, keep on whatever you want to do. we expect you, the congress, the hundred heads in the congress or in the senate to pass this bill. >> i am very, very happy that the democrats seem to be moving forward in the senate with approval of health care reform legislation. the republicans have been standing in the way of this progress, they have no viable solution, and we need insurance for millions of people who don't have it as well as trying to fix a broken health care system. let's get on with it. >> okay. ireporters weighing in. let's get more details on the vote today and the road ahead for health care reform. national political correspondent
jessica yellin joining us live from capitol hill. jess, what happens this afternoon? >> reporter: well, they will in the words of that ireporter start to get on with it. it is, as you said, tony, a procedural vote so this afternoon around 2:15 the senate has to vote to continue forward to tomorrow morning's final vote on the health care bill. it will be the third time they need 60 votes to clear a hurdle and get them to that finish line tomorrow morning, this interim finish line when the senate will actually have a bill. so it's all procedural stuff today. there's also an effort to overturn an amendment by republicans suggesting that the health care bill is unconstitutional. all this stuff sort of around the fringes. but the main vote today us getting us forward to that 8:00 a.m. vote tomorrow morning. the big question, tony, is what comes next. what will happen next is folks go on christmas break, but then reid, pelosi, the democratic leaders here will start talks with the white house almost right away after christmas to try to hammer out a deal to
bring these two very different bills, the house version and the senate version, into a merged bill that can pass this body next year. >> jessica, i don't think we can do this enough. if you would, share with us what's in the bill. >> reporter: okay. so i think we have some graphics for this. first of all, the big discussion, this bill does not include a public option. this is a senate version of the bill weir talking about. it puts additional regulations on the insurance industry and includes $10 billion for new community health centers. nearly all americans under this would be required to get insurance or face fines. the government would subsidize coverage for families making about $88,000 or less. now that's over time that would eventually come into play. medicaid would also cover families making just over $29,000. so that's the senate version, tony, but again, a very different version in the house. we don't know what it will look like when the two are merged. >> very good. jessica yellin on capitol hill for us. jess, thank you.
later in this hour dr. sanjay gupta answers your questions about the bill. quickly we want to get you to miami, florida. valerie and michael brewer, the parents of 15-year-old michael brewer severely burned a few months ago, holding a press conference right now. let's listen to mom, valerie. >> everybody's prayers and the media for covering the story, getting the word out. i want to thank all of you guys. just everybody thank you. we hope everybody has as wonderful a christmas as we're going to have. >> valerie, you look like a really proud mother today. >> i am. >> talk about that. tell me about how you're feeling. >> i don't have the words. i'm just ecstatic. he's just so incredible. his strength, his determination, his will to survive. you're going to make me cry. he's just incredible. he is incredible. he gives me the will to get up and get up and go every day. >> what was it like to be able
to bring him home yesterday? can you give us an insight into the emotions when you first came home? >> there was a whirlwind of emotions, it was a whirlwind. it was happy, scared. he didn't know what to expect when he got there. we did not go home, we're at a safe place and i'm not going to disclose that so we can have some privacy and he feels safe. it was just incredible, incredible. the look of relief on his face when he got there and, wow, it was just, you know, almost over. we still have a long way to go with the physical therapy and he's working hard and even when we are not here doing physical therapy, he has stuff he has to do at home. he uses a broomstick and he does his therapy with his arms and his legs and the walking. he has to walk up and down
stairs and stuff where we are. so it's incredible. >> do you know what's going on with the other boys? >> no, i don't. i don't stay up on that. when they call me and i have to go, then i'll just go. but i don't pay attention to any of that. >> what about safety? >> what did he watch on tv? what did he eat and what did he want to watch? >> that's funny. he wanted a lunchable. a pizza lunchable, that's what he meanted for dinner last night. and we watched -- i don't remember, it was a cartoon movie. i was just so happy that he was there, we just talked and really didn't watch the movie, we just sat and talked, and talked to other people that were around. >> you're not going home. >> no. >> talk about feeling safe. >> no, he doesn't feel safe going back to the neighborhood. the families of the boys live within five blocks of us, so he
does fear for his life going back there. >> do you? >> no, i don't. i don't. but i fear for him and, you know, if he's fearful, i am too. i am supportive of him. he doesn't want to go back and i don't blame him. we're looking forward to moving on and having some peace and moving on with his life. >> what does he say, what are his thoughts about these boys that did this to him, particularly the one that he apparently grew up with. >> he really doesn't talk about it with me or with his father. he talks to the therapists about it because he doesn't want to upset us. that's just -- he's just sensitive. he's a very sensitive boy. he knows what he can talk about and what he can't talk about because he knows it will upset me or his father. he feels more comfortable talking to his therapists about
it. >> you mean physical therapists or -- >> the psychiatrists and the psychotherapist. >> he's seeing those kind of people too. >> absolutely. he's going to have to deal with this for the rest of his life. he still wakes up with nightmares at night. it's just like when you come home from war, the veterans, they deal with posttraumatic stress syndrome and that's what michael deals with. he wakes up having night terrors every night. and i'm sure that he'll have to deal with this for the rest of his life. >> do you think that this will inspire him to set hi goals higher, to do better in school perhaps, down the line as he recovers? >> i think so, yes. once you've overcome something like this, there's really nothing that can stand in your way. >> valerie, how have you been able to keep your composure? there were a lot of parents watching who say if i was the parent in that situation, i'd be so angry at those boys. how have you been able to keep your composure? >> god, god. i pray a lot. and the prayers of everybody
that are praying for us and all of the support that we get. the 7,000 plus family that we have now on facebook and around the world, all the cards and letters, they help to keep me focused and keep me positive. >> it's the holiday season, a couple days from christmas. has he said anything about his christmas wish and as a mother are you getting your christmas wish despite the tragedy? >> we got our christmas wish the day that he was let go from the hospital. that's the only thing that he wanted for christmas. >> family. >> family, yeah. >> how are you going to spend christmas? >> we're going to have some family together and open presents and have dinner and just sit and talk. >> will he have to come for therapy on christmas day? >> no. he'll have to do therapy where we are, yes. >> if the physical therapy is painful, what about -- how does
that work? >> it's also very painful. we premed kate him before the showers. he has a regimen of pain medications that he takes. they differ slightly from the wound care that he gets in the shower to whaegts for physical therapy, but the entire process is pain. even sometimes the wind blowing across the wounds can be painful. he will also have a background pain medication that we'll continue throughout the day to take away the general pain with additional medications given for showering and wound care and that kind of thing. >> how much of his body is covered with wounds? >> well, he was 65% burned so he still has 65% wounds. it's a matter of what we call open and what are closed wounds. the open wounds are still what you could imagine would be a raw surface area versus -- >> okay, we've been getting an update on michael brewer's condition. you heard from valerie brewer. can you think back on this with me. in the middle of october when we first heard about this story and we were all appalled by what we
were hearing and reporting at that time, that michael brewer had been attacked allegedly by friends in most cases here, certainly young people that in many cases he went to school, with had had been attacked over a video game, the price tag on it about $40. just some crazy retaliation attack. you remember the early days when a doctor joins us and was telling us about his condition and couldn't guarantee that michael would recover in those early days. his condition very much up in the air whether he would make it in limbo. the doctor giving us a lot of information on his condition, very frank about how he was doing and the real trouble that he was still in, recovering from burns over 65% of his body. and now the update today, just a couple of months later, michael brewer is out of the hospital, he's in a safe place. he's not back home in his neighborhood because there is
still some real concerns there. you heard valerie mention it, concerns that michael has because so many of the young people allegedly who committed this attack live in close proximity to the family home. so michael brewer has been transferred to a safe place. i would imagine part of that is to keep the media away. we've all been very interested in his progress and his story overall. but you also heard that physical therapy will be an ongoing part of michael brewer's life. five days a week. that he wakes at night with night terrors. so this is still very much a situation that michael has to deal with emotionally and mentally. but another bit of good news here, no more skin grafts for michael brewer. it's astonishing how far he has come in such a short period of time. the latest update on michael brewer. he will be not home, but out of the hospital for christmas. before we get to break here, very quickly want to get you caught up on the numbers on the big board, new york stock
20 minutes later, she'll bring one into the world in seattle. later today, she'll help an accident victim in kansas. how can one nurse be in all these places? through the nurses she taught in this place. johnson & johnson knows, behind every nurse who touches a life... there's a nurse educator... who first touched them. ♪ you're a nurse ♪ you make a difference i've got to tell you, major problems along the northeast corridor train line. no trains moving between new jersey and new york city. cnn producer ross leavitt is at penn station and joins us on the
phone. ross, what's the situation there? what's going on? >> reporter: well, i'm in the amtrak waiting area of penn station and just looking at hundreds and hundreds of people who are literally stranded here while there's a power outage on the lines between new york and newark, new jersey. that has basically snarled all train traffic in and out of this station, including both on new jersey transit and on amtrak. but of course new jersey transit handles tens of thousands of commuters every morning. this happened at the very end of the rush hour traffic. and then, of course, it's affecting tons of people on amtrak who are trying to get to their families for christmas, so that, of course, is causing major problems. in fact i am standing here with a family of three, which includes the youngest member of the family, 19 months old asleep on his mom here. so obviously a tough situation for a lot of people. in fact i'm going to ask aaron, aaron, what do you think of this
situation so far? >> amtrak always makes it interesting. >> reporter: when do you think you're getting out of here? you're heading to boston. >> if we can get there by dark, i'd be thrilled. >> reporter: so that's -- tony, there you have it. i mean really tough. he'd be happy to get there by dark at this point. >> ross, a quick question. do the folks there have any idea what caused this and how long before they get the problem fixed? >> reporter: we don't know exactly what caused it. we do know that it's a power outage and so far we haven't gotten any guidance from amtrak on how long it's going to be. they do say that they are working on the problem, as does new jersey transit, so it's a wait and see for everybody. >> if you learn anything, just give us a heads up. some credit card customers are seeing their interest rates literally go through the roof. a lot of times without any warning or explanation. but new rules should put an end to the secrecy, at least, if not the increases. christine romans is joining us live now from new york.
tell us more about this, christine. >> reporter: well, this is much broader than just credit cards. this is auto loans, mortgages, any time you go to borrow money, there are some people who may not have a perfect credit history who will face higher interest rates. they might not necessarily know why or know it's happening but these new rules from the fed and the ftc mean that you're going to have more information and more transparency really in why you could be paying higher interest rates. a notification from the lender that, look, this is why you're paying a higher rate, a materially higher rate than other people and here's why. and here is a free credit report to show you where in your history there might be something spotty that is the reason why we've decided you're a little bit risky. this is called risk-based pricing. you'll hear a lot about this as credit card companies and lenders reach back into your financial history and find things that they think might be a reason why they're going to charge you higher interest rates. something interesting about this, it doesn't go into effect
until january, 2011. it was based on a law that was basd in 2003 so it just shows you again, tony, how long it can take for some of these consumer-friendly rules to actually take effect. lenders have a lot of time to prepare, to get ready for this. it's meant to make it easier for you if you're buying a car, if you're getting a mortgage, if you're taking out any kind of loan. it's meant to make it easier for you to get a copy of your credit report. it puts the on up s on the lender to tell you why you're getting higher interest rates. millions have been battered by the recession and have less than perfect credit. >> we'll be the judge whether it makes it easier or not. christine romans for us in new york. good to see you, thank you. got to get to our top stories. parts of the west and midwest is bracing for a winter storm. it's expected to move east into the plains states through christmas. blackberry is back on after
a severe service outage that lasted more than eight hours. the company estimates 100% of its customers in the united states and canada lost e-mail and internet service yesterday. no word on why. santa packing heat. nashville police say a man wearing a santa suit and dark sunglasses robbed the suntrust bank demanding money from the teller at gunpoint. according to a witness, the santa explained he had to rob the bank to pay his elves. trying to find that last-minute gift or are you just getting started? the time to buy is now!
and in the middle of it all, our morgan neill. he is actually in london. morgan, first of all, you're in london. where are you exactly? and i'm expecting you're going to share a story of long lines and people taking advantage of deep discount pricing. >> reporter: tony, you sound like you've done this before. i'm actually in a department store here in central london, one of the city's busiest shopping districts. really one of the busiest department stores you'll find in the city. very well-known here. this has been expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year. i can tell you on a normal day here, the store says they get about 30,000, 40,000 people. yesterday they had 100,000. today they say they may beat that number. as you're pointing out, in the states the day just after thanksgiving is your biggest shopping day. here usually it's the day after christmas. that's when you see a lot of discounts, boxing day. but last year we started to see that before christmas and around
the country we're seeing a lot of that again this year as well. retailers really hoping to take advantage this year and trying to boost this economy out of recession. the uk one of the world's last big economies yet to emerge. now, to the nitty-gritty, the people who are out there in the streets today. there are lots of people crowding them. you can see certainly a lot of people here. we talked to a few of them about what their experience has been like today. >> there are sales already early this year, i think maybe because of the recession. >> most of my stuff is from sales. >> jeans for my brother and a camera lens in my bag. >> books, clothes, jewelry. >> we're going to get a camcorder. we got everything else. >> clothes, shoes, perfume, dvds. >> i've got to find some more gifts before i go up tomorrow. >> reporter: now, in the country on the whole some of the big sellers have been clothing
stores have done well, bookstores as well as supermarkets. now here in particular what we've heard are hand bags, which you can see i'm in the handbag section. scented candles and easy snow and little helicopters that the kids really seem to love. >> all right, morgan, do the right thing, by your man in atlanta. those scented candles sound lovely. morgan, appreciate it. thank you. is the anticipation eating away at you or are you just dying to know what's in that box? on my blog we are asking what's your all-time favorite holiday gift. carol writes all-time favorite gift, a little red leather rocking chair when i was 6 in which i could rock my new baby sister. she is now medicare eligible. another says when i was 12 years old i can remember wanting only one thing for christmas, a stuffed simpsons maggie doll that you could only get from burger king. i pulled the paper off and immediately started yelling, i got it.
i finally got a maggie doll. every now and then i'll pop in the old home movies from that christmas and giggle at how excited i was. does that mean with the hat and -- is that me with the hand the -- you guys are just fools, man. jennifer says my favorite gift is not a material one. this year my husband and i were given the greatest gift. after ten years of trying to conceive, we are now expecting our first child through the miracles of ivf. our hearts are filled with joy and love. terrific stuff. we still want to hear from you. just go to cnn.com/tony. we will share more of your replies throughout the show. still to come, more of you are looking for adventure and you're finding the wild wet so attractive, you're packing up and you're moving. (woman) dear cat.
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with new gold bond pain relieving foot cream. penetrates deep to sooth and relieve pain fast. gold bond. serious relief for sore feet. the recession is having a big effect on states across the country. population growth is stagnant as many americans no longer have the flexibility to move. susan lisovicz is at the new york stock exchange with details on a new census survey. good morning, susan. what do you have for us? >> reporter: well, since this is a survey of big numbers, let's start with the biggest of all, tony. there are now 307 million americans. that, however, is up less than 1% from last year. it's the slowest growth rate this decade. one thing of note is the growth in states that had been particularly booming have been hard hit. states like arizona, california,
nevada, florida, all of them are warm weather states. all of them are also at the centers for the housing crisis so you're really seeing the migration of americans affected from this census. people are stuck. they can't sell their homes and so they can't move. three states actually showed a net loss of residents. michigan, rhode island and maine. michigan and rhode island, as we've pointed out many times, have an unemployment rate higher than the national average, tony. >> wow. so for those people who were able to move this past year, susan, where did they go? >> reporter: well, they went west, young man. states with the fastest growth rate, which is only around 2%, wyoming, utah, texas, colorado. these states all have an unemployment rate below the national average. many western states like texas didn't have a major housing bust, so that's another common denominator. in real numbers texas added the most, about 500,000.
this is i guess a preliminary report. the full survey is due out next year. one thing that we did get today, a new report on housing. new home sales plunged more than 11% in november to a seven-month low. just yesterday, tony, you and i were talking about existing home sales which surged 7.5%. i just want to point out one thing, existing home sales, biggest part of the housing market came in distressed sales, foreclosurese foreclosureses, so you have a lot more of them with existing home sales. you also have -- we're going into the slowest part of the year for housing market and a lot of folks know that that first-time home buyer credit was extend extended, so we might see another wave of buying close to the expiration as we've seen so many times. in the meantime the modest gains for the dow have evaporated. slightly underwater. the nasdaq is hanging on, up
about half a percent, and i'll be back in the next hour. >> well, with that existing home sales number from yesterday, at least it looks like we're getting rid of some of that excess inventory, huh? >> reporter: very good point, because it is supply and demand, so you're seeing a lot of action on the low end, but the fact is, it is moving the inventory. we still have a lot of homes unsold but we have fewer than we have had just this past -- just in this year, tony. >> okay, susan, see you next hour. doctors tired of dealing with insurance companies decide they're better off treating, yeah, inmates. health care behind bars at cnnmoney.com. five years after the tsunami in tie lane, one man counting his blessings. you didn't hear it from me, but this malibu, it offers better highway mileage than a comparable camry or accord. estimated 33 highway. i saw that on the epa site. so how come the malibu costs so little. it's a chevy. you have cop hair.
all right. here's a little christmas cheer for you from a cnn ireporter. tom murfine of orange county, california, says there's nothing quite like a burst of youthful exuberance to warm up your holidays. look out rockettes, these pint-sized synchronized figure skaters getting it done. rob marciano now, rob, take a look.
synchronized. >> oh, yeah. >> i don't know what more to say about it. >> well, i guess the pink wigs have us scratching the heads a little bit. maybe a little santa hat, maybe a little elf outfit. but very nicely done, ladies. >> yes. >> good morning. let's talk about this storm. we've got some action in the form of some winter storm watches and warnings that are posted. the warnings as everything weather is bad. those are warnings and we could see several inches, if not over a foot of snow in some of these spots. most of them are west of memphis and west of chicago. west basically of the mississippi. that's where most of the cold air is. east of there and along the mississippi is where the warm air is and that's where we're seeing some rain. so if you are traveling by interstate, say out of chicago on interstate 94, 90 or 80, you're looking at a wintery mix starting in chicago and then turning over to snow the further west you go. same deal in kansas city starting at rain. along 35, 29 and 70 westbound,
that rain will turn into snow and some of that snow may very well pile up in a hurry. as far as the snow tallies or what the forecast is for snow over the next day or two, fairly impressive stuff, especially when you consider how the atmosphere kind of recharged after last week. a foot possible places like wichita up through omaha and in through minneapolis. as a matter of fact the national weather service out of minneapolis/st. paul saying they could see 12 to 20 inches. tomorrow we slide things off to the east. windy behind this. and then the sliver of ice potentially ahead of this system, as it runs into that cooler air. and that includes the northeast on friday, starting out as a mix and eventually changing over to rain. if you are traveling today, chicago is a problem spot. two-hour delays right now and 40-minute delays right now at la guardia because of wind. and it is currently cold in new york. we'll also watch the threat for seeing severe weather. pretty potent system, tony, but it's for a different part of the world compared to the blizzard
that was just a few days ago. >> all right, rob, thank you, sir. as the senate moves closer to passing its health care bill, you still have plenty of questions and our dr. sanjay gupta has answers. what will happen if you outlive your savings? pacific life knows that tomorrow's questions require planning today. pacific life has the financial solutions and strength to help you and your financial professional develop a plan. pacific life...the power to help you succeed. pediatricians trust children's tylenol. to help their fevers, aches and pains feel better.
off the runway after landing yesterday. dozens were injured when the plane crashed through a fence and ended up on the beach front. the parents at the center of the balloon boy hoax are in court this hour for a sentencing hearing. they could face two to three months in jail and more than $40,000 in restitution. they pled guilty last month to planning the stunt for a reality tv show. senator john kerry's wife is being treated for breast cancer. 71-year-old teresa heinz says she was diagnosed after a mammogram in september. she is encouraging younger women to get annual exams despite new recommendations for less frequent checks. the people on your list may be asking for zhu zhu hamsters and flip videos this holiday season, but if you want something a little less predictable, look to the japanese. kyung lah has the story. >> reporter: can't find anything for that impossible to buy for person this holiday? how about a $60 gift that brings
you back to the womb. well, a little higher. >> what is this? >> it's a breast pillow. >> reporter: a breast pillow? >> yeah, for a man or for women to rest comfortably between the two breasts. >> reporter: only in japan can you find a samurai umbrella and samurai underwear, a device records what you say backwards. or this dog bank. for just $50 it eats even more of your hard-earned cash. >> so the point of this is to encourage you to save this holiday. >> right, right, right, right. >> reporter: sven from japantrends.com tracks japan's whacky inventions and sells them around the world. from sort of high tech like this home fireworks projector, to toilet tech, one for the girls. >> replicates the sound of water
flushing. >> reporter: and this $78 stool for the guys. >> you can still be a man and don't have to sit down on the toilet so you can still kind of stand, but you can mask your noise again by being very close to the toilet. >> reporter: japan may be a buttoned-up society, but when it comes to the gadgets, it's a free-for-all. >> people easily in the states or in europe, they say like oh, that's stumd, that's completely useless and they kind of push it down in value. in japan you this hear these kid of talks, people are very open. >> reporter: >> reporter: to all sorts of head-scratching ideas. >> right now it looks like a normal pillow, but if i go on this one and i snore, it starts vibrating. it disturbs your sleep but it let's the person next to you sleep. >> reporter: so this is a gift
you buy for somebody else. >> yes, definitely. >> reporter: as the world's most annoying clock says -- >> why do you do this? >> reporter: this holiday from japan, sometimes it is better to give than receive. kyung lah, cnn, tokyo. >> good stuff. so what's the best gift you've ever received? that's what we're asking at my blog. holly writes when i was five years old my mom and brother built me a beautiful dollhouse by hand, complete with roof shingles, even thinking of it now makes me all giddy. my favorite gift 25 years later. john says i just received it on friday. we paid off our mortgage! woo-hoo! and mike says a daisy red rider bb gun and, yes, i almost shot my eye out several times. of course mike is referring to the classic movie "a christmas story. ". >> you'll shoot your eye out, kid. >> good stuff.
we hope you get everything you want just like ralphy did, even though he shot his eye out. still want to hear from you. go to cnn.com/tony and we will share some of your responses, your favs next hour. here's what we're working on for the next hour of "cnn newsroom." mexico kills one of its most wanted drug loaders. a week later, family members of a marine involved in the operation are gunned down. is it retaliation by the cartel? we will have a live report. plus al qaeda's new safe haven. find out where the terrorist organization is expanding and how the world is reacting. is it the site of the next big war? that and more coming up next hour right here in the "cnn newsroom."
got to tell you even republicans say the senate health care bill is headed for final approval tomorrow, but they're not backing off their criticism of the legislation. republican senator tom coal burn of oklahoma is also a physician. he outlined his problems with the bill on cnn's campbell brown. >> the bill is going to pass the senate this week before christmas, there's no question about that. does that mean this bill will become law? no, it doesn't. everything we've done has been able to teach the american people who is in there. we still don't know everything. my staff has been going over this thing for four days, the new amendment, and we're finding
new things every day, and yet we voted the first vote 30 hours after it was introduced, so 2700 pages of legislation, you have to make a decision on with with a 400-page amendment that affects the first 2,100. you have to make a decision. that's the worst way in the world i can think to pass legislation. so, what is the reason we're doing it this fast? we're doing it for a political reason. we want to pass a bill to say we passed a bill, not because it's in the best long-term interests and doing the best, right thing for america. as a physician -- ali, let me just say this. >> sure. >> as a physician i despise half the insurance companies my patients have. i want to fix what's wrong with the insurance industry, but the government isn't the answer to replacing the insurance agencies with the government. i have a whole lot more problems with medicaid and med chair in my practices than do with the insurances. >> the final vote is set for tomorrow 8:00 a.m. on christmas
eve. we know a lot of you are wondering how it will change the quality of care if it passes. so, we're asking our dr. sanjay gupta to answer your questions. becky writes, my daughter just turned 25 and she is a student. she is getting kicked off her father's health insurance plan. we will have to pay $had 15 a month in c.o.b.r.a. i heard this new plan will cover her until the age of 26. sanjay, is that few? >> becky, thanks a lot for that question. it's really the case of good news/bad news here when it comes to people precisely in your position. first of all, the good news is, i talked about this quite a bit, the idea that people will be able to stay on their parents' insurance programs a little bit longer, really up to the age of 26, you are 25, soon to be 26. you may benefit from that depending on when your birthday is. the harder news and i think what will change most for probably someone like you, by the year 2014, you're going to need to have health care insurance. you can't be one of the young invincibles who has sort of not
gotten it over time. what we know now, at least initially, there will be a penalty associated with not having health insurance. $95 in the year 2014 and by the year 2016, it will go up to $715. that's important to keep in mind. some people will get what is known as a hardship exemption, you may fall into that category depending on your work situation. if your insurance policy costs $8% or more of your total annual income, you can get one of those hardship exemptions. that's something to keep in mind but, again, 2014, you're going to need to have insurance or you'll pay a penalty. see if i can get to one northern question. if i have a current health plan that is too expensive can i find a more affordable but equal plan. what your question is really driving at is where will health care costs be a few years from now. some people believe as a result of this entire bill and the reforms that will take place that there is going to be a bending of the cost curve downward. some people believe it will happen soon, some people believe it will ham later and a whole lot of people think it won't
happen, health care costs would go up and that could directly affect you. as far as the public exchange, something that, you know, private companies compete with nonprofit companies to try and drive down premiums, you may not be a candidate for that, and that's part of the issue here. people who are going to be qualifying for the public exchange are people who are self-employed, small business owners, and people who are not getting insurance through their employer and only make a certain income, below 400% of the poverty level, so that's really important to keep in mind and also keep in mind, you know, we're talking about the senate bill overall, many of the reforms aren't really going to take effect until 2014. a little bit of help there and information there. we'll keep an eye on it over the next few days. back to you. >> thank you. a beautiful memory from a tragic story. remembering the thailand tsunami five years later. using 401k savings, life insurance, and annuities
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remembering the tsunami of 2004. its monster waves killing more than 200,000 people just after christmas. among those lucky enough to survive is one of our "faces of the story" today. he talked to cnn's dan rivers. >> reporter: they were enjoying the holiday of a lifetime in december of 2004. >> i mean, it was a pure paradise, and when i met sara, i decided i had to bring her there to show her the most wonderful -- one of the most
beautiful places i've ever been to. >> reporter: the day after christmas, he decided to shoot a video of sara as the sea mysteriously retreated. >> the water just grabbed my ankles, and it was a huge pressure. i'd never felt anything like it. it was as if someone was trying to pull me out in the ocean. more or less telling sara, come up, get out of the water, and let's go to the other side of the island, because something's weird here. we started walking towards the other side of the island, and the faster we walked, the more water comes after us. and then we started to, you know, run slowly. and the water just chased us. and then we, you know -- seconds later we ran for our lives.
at one point when i'm -- i'm telling sara to run straight towards the other side. and thank god she told me, run towards the hotel. and when we came in there, i remember seeing luggage just floating around, and more and more water was just coming from everywhere. and this was the point where everything started to be real scary. sara told me, let's just go upstairs. just when we reached the top floor there, the whole ground just -- everything came with a bang. and there was, like -- it felt like an earthquake because everything shook, and it was a
tremendous sound. you couldn't see anything of the island. small -- small houses just collapsed. and a boat is coming from the -- from one side to the other. it just passing the island. and -- and i remember just, oh, hell. >> reporter: the tsunami brought kallie and sara close to death, but it was also a life-changing experience. >> well, i -- i said to sara, i whispered in her ear, that if we would make it, make it down alive, let's get married when we get back home. today we've two beautiful kids as well, lydia and 6 and 2 1/2 years old, and life is quite strange. this is a really -- a really
tragic story, but we have some kind of beautiful memory from it as well. >> reporter: today, there is little trace of the disaster on thailand's holiday island, but those awful images and memories will live forever in the minds of people like kalle who fought to survive the tsunami. dan rivers, cnn. time now for your "top of the hour" reset. i'm tony harris in the "cnn newsroom." it's 3:00 p.m. in brazil where a new jersey father appears on the brink of getting his son back. an international custody battle possibly ending on the eve of christmas eve. it is noon in new york, where new retail sales figures are in. are you spending a lot this holiday season? we will take you live to the new york stock exchange for answers. and it is 8:00 p.m. in yemen where al qaeda militants are finding sanctuary. is this growing terrorist haven the new, next big war front? let's get started. i won the case, now give me back my son.
a new jersey father is closer than ever to ending a frustrating five-year ordeal to bring his son home from brazil. let's go to ines ferre in new york for the latest. and, boy, i got to ask you, first of all, is the boy's brazilian family giving up on all appeals? >> that's what they say. they say that they are not going to be appealing anymore. a lot of developments have been happening in these past few hours. the lawyer for the brazilian family saying that they want a peaceful handover, that they're in no rush, that he will be meeting with an intermediary to set up a meeting between the maternal grandmother in brazil and david goldman so that she can tell goldman about what the boy likes, what he likes to eat, et cetera. they say that they want this to be a really smooth handover. now, we spoke to the maternal grandmother in brazil, and she told cnn that she's very
disappointed by this ruling. she said, quote, sean is very sad, because it has never been his desire to go back to the states. he got especially disappointed about not having the right to speak in his own country about what he wanted for himself. you'll recall that the grandmother was really pushing for the boy's testimony to be heard in court. now, as far as goldman's concerned, we're told that he's cautiously optimistic, of course, as he has been over these past five years, but that is becoming more and more real to him, that his expressions, his body language are really changing, that he's really starting to believe that this will happen. and we also spoke last night to the paternal grandfather in new jersey who spoke to cnn about the anticipation of having sean return to the united states. >> i'm going to hug him and kiss him and tell him how much i love him and how much i've missed him and go on from there. i just feel, again, cautiously
optimistic. i've been on the top of this roller coaster so many times, that to slide down the other side, as david has said many times, until the wheels are up on that plane and sean and david and the congressmen all are on it, it's not a done deal. and -- and hopefully that's going to happen soon. >> and the paternal grandparents telling cnn that they are really impressed by the stamina that david goldman has shown. this has been a long, five-yeea battle for him, and they really feel like this is finally coming to a close. >> i nnes, let me ask you, davi goldman is getting closer to a reunion with his son, permanently now, but is there any guidance on when this mediated handover will actually take place? >> right. we still don't have a timeline yet. we're told that it probably won't happen today, in fact, the grandmother also telling cnn
that they're not -- they don't know when sean will be returning to the united states. we're still awaiting word as to when this will happen. but, again, they just say they don't want to rush this. >> yeah, yeah. >> they want to it be really smooth. >> well, after five years, yeah, i guess you can wait another day if you have to, if it's on the right path here. ines ferre for us in new york, thank you. we're expecting to hear from sean goldman's brazilian relatives this hour. when it is happens, we'll bring it is to you live. a 15-year-old boy who was viciously set on fire is getting his christmas wish. michael brewer is out of the hospital and at an undisclosed location. he's still recovering from burns over 65% of his body about two months ago now after being allegedly attacked by teens. last hour we got an update about michael's remarkable recovery, we have to say, from his mother and a doctor at miami's jacksonville memorial hospital. >> i don't have the words, i'm just ecstatic. he's just so incredible.
he's strength, his determination, his will to survive, it's going to make me cry. he's just incredible. he is incredible. he gives me the will to get up and get up, go every day. he does say he's going back to the neighborhood. the families of the boys live within five blocks of us. so, he -- he does fear for his life going back there. >> about two weeks in to michael's hospital course, the same thing happened to him as we would expect. he had a number of infections, he took a turn for the worse. at one point we weren't sure whether or not he would survive these injuries. once he recovered from it and he started to turn around, he progressed very, very quickly. and the real reason for that is because of michael's stamina, his endurance and his basically his desire to improve. and michael's worked with us very, very hard. he spends a lot of time with therapists and he does what we ask him to do.
and it's very painful and it's hard for an adult to accomplish what he's done. >> once again, michael's mother says they are not taking him home because he fears for his safety. the families, again, of the teens that allegedly set michael on fire still live, i think you heard, within five blocks of the neighborhood. train service starting to get back to normal on the northeast core dorps, commuters are boarding again after a power outage earlier this morning shut down service for thousands of passengers including those traveling between jersey and new york. the senate health care reform bill headed toward final passage tomorrow, but before the christmas eve vote, the bill has to clear another procedural hurdle today. national political correspondent, jessica yellin, is back with us from capitol hill. and, jessica, if you would, walk us through what happens later today and then tomorrow. >> reporter: okay, tony, well in the very rules-driven way the senate works, voting begins this afternoon at precisely 2:21 p.m. there will be five votes in all, and most -- four of them are
just small matters that are not likely to affect the final bill in any way. not necessarily small, but there's a point of order, a constitutional challenge, a motion to table an amendment, don't need to worry about those. here's what we should be focused on. the very last vote that is the fifth vote, it's a motion to proceed that tees up the big vote on the final bill tomorrow. they need 60 votes for that to clear today. and so we will be looking to see that they get through that 60-vote hurdle which is expected to happen, you know, without a problem today. >> got you. >> reporter: and all the voting, all told, is spopesed to last until about 3:304:00 this afternoon and then we can look ahead to tomorrow's big one, tony? >> okay. and if you would, take us through what we can expect when the holidays are over, really jumping ahead here, and the real work of reconciling the house and senate bills actually begin. >> reporter: right. well, the big challenge, as you know, the house version of the health care bill is different significantly from the senate version of the health care bill. they have to merge the two, and
work on this will begin even before the senate and the house leadership returns from their christmas break. so, staff will be back after the actual little christmas holiday, but before senators are back. they'll begin talking about language and negotiations, identify mean, how do you really decide which is the abortion language they should use, how do you pay for this? these are all big issues. and the people that will really be making the decisions are the democratic leaders, nancy pelosi and harry read, talking with the white house, and then they'll also be taking input from some of the most influential committee shares that helped write the bill, including max baucus, hearken, dodd in the senate and over on the house side, you have wrangle, waxman and george miller, who is not up there, but he'll be part of the discussion. they'll bring in others, but a lot of this negotiating will go on over the phone, through staff, in the days to come, well before you see house and senate members back here in washington. >> all right, terrific stuff. all right, jessica yellin for us on capitol hill.
jessica, good to see you, thank you. a closer look at what the senate health reform bill would mean for your medical coverage. here are some of the details on what is and isn't in the legislation. the bill does not include a public option. instead it would create a not-for-profit private plan overseen by a government agency. the bill puts additional regulation on the insurance industry. it includes $10 billion for new community health centers. nearly all americans would be required to get insurance or face fines. the government would subsidize coverage for families making about $88,000 or less. medicaid would cover families making just over $29,000. businesses with more than 50 employees could face fines for uninsured workers. smaller businesses with employee salaries averaging $50,000 or less, could get tax credits. and just minutes ago, a colorado judge sentenced the father of the so-called balloon boy to four years probation and 90 days in jail. richard heene addressed the court this morning and
♪al i i want for christmas is you ♪ the "random moment of the day" will light up your holiday season to be sure. it's lighting up a neighborhood in phoenix, arizona. take a look at this, wow! this family's over-the-top display includes tens of thousands of lights, a countdown clock, a 50-foot-tall tree, stars over the house, you name it. and as a courtesy to the neighbors, the lights are turned off by 11:00 p.m. on fridays and
in mexico's deadly drug war it's not just authorities putting their lives on the line. their loved ones can be at serious risk as well. senior latin america editor, rafael romo is joining us right now. they took out one of the most notorious leaders, but that's not the end of it, is it? >> a new low level point.
and they expected retribution, but nobody thought the victims would be family members. a marine who died in the operation where a drug lord was also killed. >> reporter: it was a solemn and somber memorial for a soldier who gave his life for his country. mexico was honoring a marine in the mexican armed forces who died last week in a raid in central mexico. angulo was killed in a shootout with members of the powerful drug cartel, the leader of the cartel, arturo beltran leyva, his brother hector, and five of their associates were also killed, only seven hours after the fallen marine was laid to rest in an an apparently act of retribution, gunmen attacked his home. authorities say the hit men skilled his mother and three other relatives. another family member was seriously injured. >> translator: this is a cowardly and despicable act. these actions show how organized crime operates without regard to anything, killing innocent
victims. >> reporter: for people in mexico, this apparently act of retaliation is nothing new. drug traffickers routinely kill police officers and government officials especially those involved in anti-narcotic agencies, many times family members are caught in the cross fire, if not intentionally killed. >> translator: we will not be intimidated by unscrupulous criminals like the ones who have committed these atrocities. those who act in this way only deserve to be repudiated by society and should pay for their crimes. >> and mexican media is reporting this afternoon that two suspected cartel members who allegedly participated in the attack against the family were captured last night, not too far from where the shooting took place. police also seized three vehicles and several high-caliber weapons, at the hotel where they were arrested. >> wow, so rafael, what do these murders say about president calderon's war on drugs? how big of a setback is this? >> when he took office in december of 2006, he said i am not going to look the other way. i am going to fight these drug
cartels, and he said from the beginning, it's going to be bloody. it's going to be dangerous for the entire country. but this is -- >> yeah. >> -- a dirty job. somebody has to do it. >> it's turned out to be prophetic. rafael, appreciate it. thank you. >> sure. still to come -- snow, sleet, freezing rain. just in time for christmas! ♪ ♪ ♪
(announcer) we're opening more lanes than ever, to make christmas shopping easier. and with unbeatable prices, christmas costs less at walmart, save money. live better. walmart. chad, if you would, give me your take on this storm that's starting out west. i guess shortly will move into the plains and then we know where it's going to go from there. >> yeah, well, it kind of doesn't move as far east, but the jet stream takes it north and up to hudson bay. if you are traveling through minneapolis and minnesota and nebraska, the dakotas, you need to get ready for this, because you can just see the red. i mean, it kind of goes on there forever, all the way from madison up to almost green bay and back up into almost denver. i think the biggest problem will
be right through here. as the storm draws from the south, it's going to draw up like this. that's the jet stream's track, and so that's kind of the way the low will go as well. the problem is there's actually more than one piece of energy in the jet stream, so this low is going to go bloop, bloop! and when it does this little extra thing, that's going to allow the low to be in place for a very long time. you want these things just to go zing! get out of here, you get your 10 inches and you're done. i don't think it will happen. i think you will see the potential of 24 inches of snow because of the loop-the-loop it does. this is 24 hours' worth of snow, fit snows for 24 hours, even an inch an hour, do the math. i don't have to help you with that. that's going to be an event there for sioux falls, sioux city, omaha, minneapolis, right on down i-29 all the way up through and into i-80. that's right through omaha, right through north folk which is johnny carson's property,
just got done talking about johnny carson a little bit ago and to duluth and rochester and minneapolis. and south of here, right here where it doesn't show much snow, that's where the ice will be. >> am. >> so, watch what you ask for, tony? >> you said it. thank you, chad. >> sure. so, who's been buying what for christmas? and are retailers happy? xxxx
let's get you caught up now on our top stories -- sentence has just been handed down in the balloon boy case. the boy's father, richard heene, getting 90 days in jail and four years probation. in court heene apologized to lying to authorities and telling them that his son had taken off in a homemade balloon. his wife's sentencing is under
way right now. u.s. investigators are headed to kingston, jamaica, where an american airlines jet skidded off the runway, injuring dozens. we will get another check of our top stories in 20 minutes. thousands of blackberry users finally have access to e-mail and internet after a massive outage. were you impacted by this? well, the outage lasted most of the night. the company estimates 100% of its customers in the united states and canada were affected. it's the second outage in less than a week. all right, the rush is on tomorrow as the last shopping day before christmas. as of monday, 40% of us still had not crossed everything off our list. susan lisovicz is at the new york stock exchange with details. so, susan, so, folks are, as usual, waiting until the last minute. and what are folks buying this year? >> oh, you're going to like this, tony. electronics. >> oh, yeah. >> and probably you are among them doing the shopping. >> tell me about it, oh, yeah.
>> topping toys even this year. this is america's research group. it says 35% -- 34% of us are buying electronics compared to 28% buying toys, after that comes kids' clothes, women's clothes, men's clothes. one of the reasons why we're seeing electronic top toys is that, you know, they're cheap. prices of a flat-panel tv, so low now that they're a mass product. we're seeing them for under $500. also blu-ray dvd players can be found for under 100 bucks. >> wow. >> walmart announced today that some of its after-christmas sales, a lot of them in the electronics area. you get a $50 gift card if you buy an xbox and an e-machine netbook goes for under $230. >> that's crazy! that's crazy good! maybe i did my shopping a little early here. >> you're going to add some names. >> yeah, add some names. no, just add more gifts for the
kids. >> tony hair pris, tony harris, tony harris. >> there you go. >> one for you and one for me. >> wall street has some new spending numbers out today. anything important in those numbers, susan? >> well, it's very important, because obviously consumer activity accounts for about 70% -- >> oh, yeah. >> -- economic activity in the u.s. personal spending rose 0.5 last month. >> okay. >> why is that? incomes rose as unemployment fell last month from 10.2% to 10%. spending, of course, tied directly to confidence and we got a separate report on consumer confidence which ticked higher this month. people are a little bit more upbeat -- >> yeah. >> -- about the job market, treasury secretary, tim geithner, said today we could see real job growth by the spring. also, interestingly enough, consumer confidence also rose because consumers are happy to see stores discounting. >> oh, yeah. >> not only because of the recession but, you know, people look at this as more money in
their pockets, and so it's all good. >> how about the markets? responding at all? >> well, there's a little bit -- emphasis little bit -- of buying. >> okay. >> the dow is up, oh, about half a point right now. >> that's flat. >> yeah, we can say it's flat. nasdaq is up half a percent. we have to talk about volume. we don't often talk about it. the lights are on here, nobody's home. light volume right now at this part of the session would be about 600 million. we're half of that. so, you know, a lot of the pros have wrapped up their -- >> yeah. >> -- wrapped it up for the year, and a lot of folks are, you know, they're -- >> 12, you're a pro and we're glad you're with us. >> are buying or shopping. yeah, i'm here with you, tony. >> thank you, susan. as always, cnn is your source for the latest financial news. if you want the latest information, terrific analysis, just head on over to cnnmoney.com. you know, there is still some concern that a double-dip recession could ruin any signs of recovery we're seeing right now. but a member of the obama
administration is trying to ease those fears by putting his mouth where your money is. christine romans joins us live from new york now. christine, good to see you again. boy, we've got the money players today. >> hi. >> some bold words from the treasury secretary, timothy geithner, huh? >> he's pretty much making a vow that there won't be a second-wave financial crisis. the battle days of last fall when we were worried about the banking system going down, he says there twonet be a second wave to that and he at the treasury and the government's going to make sure that simply just doesn't happen again. he was speaking to npr yesterday. he talked to gma, "good morning america with george stephanopoulos" early today. he's out there saying that the economy is stabilizing. in fact, growing and as susan mentioned, we could have jobs growth next year. he quoted economists, because that's really the conventional wisdom that at some point next year you'll actually be creating jobs. this is what he said about his pledged vow about the second wave of the crisis. he said, we cannot afford to let
the country live again with the risk that we're going to have another series of events like we had last year, so he's pretty much saying that's the pledge there, and he's guaranteeing it. you know, tony, there's a lot of risks. there's a lot of doomsday scenarios that people are still talking about, but others are saying, look, this thing is going to gain some momentum. this economy. second quarter we saw just barely a negative growth. >> yeah. >> you know, third quarter we saw 2.2%. >> yeah. >> the economy actually grew. fourth quarter, you know, fourth quarter might be better than that many are saying, but it's fragile. all these gains still are fragile and we won't know for sure until we see how next year plays out. >> we're starting to see housing -- >> the treasury secretary -- >> we're starting to see housing get better, right? >> with a lot of government support, tony. >> yeah. >> with billions of dollars of taxpayer money supporting housing, you know, home credits. >> right, right, right. >> we're seeing people, 1 in 10
americans is receiving food stamps, tony. >> wow. >> is being fed by the american government, so we still have a fragile situation here. look at 2010 as the year of recovery and repair. >> yeah. >> the treasury secretary seems to be that's the what he's looking to. he does not see a fall like last year. >> christine, thank you. >> 14ure. today's "giving story" is tied to the collapse of the world trade center towers. one of the faces of the story is tracker, a german shepherd, who located survivors under 30 feet of rubble. trakr died, but his story lives on. the story from cnn's photojournalist, bethany swain. >> we arrived at ground zero within 14 hours of the towers collapsing. canine resources were in short supply and we immediately began searching for survivors. sometime late on the morning of september 12th, trakr got a hit,
indicating that somebody live was buried beneath the surface. they later pulled a woman, a nonsurvivor, from the rubble, and i'm extremely proud of the role that trasr played in her recovery. he was trained as a police dog, trained to find live people, evidence and drugs. he helped locate hundreds of people, recovered over $1 million of stolen goods, but the culmination of the amazing career was finding the last survivor at ground zero. when i first met trasr and working together, it wasn't even an option or a consideration until one day i happened to see a tv report and they were talking about a cloning contest, it was a company that was responsible for the cloning contest. in june, i received not one, but five amazing replicas tf rakr. come, come, good boys! i tried to choose a name to pay tribute who trasr was, there's solace, who is extremely curious, there's valor who is extremely courageous, prodigy who is the problem solver,
extremely intelligent, and there's deja vu, he's the lover of the group. meeting the puppies for the first time, it was amazing, and it was amazing, it was also bittersweet, because, sadly, trasr passed away in april, peacefully at her home at the age of 16. i respect clonings for everyone. let's go! i train, foster and rescue dogs and i strongly encourage anybody who can provide a good home for a dog to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group. this is trust, he's the older. team trakr is not about holding on to the past. it's by looking to the legacy. i lawn. the team trasr foundation. come, good boy, sit. an not-for-profit organization providing canine search and rescue groups around the world. in essence canine teams without borders. the launch of the foundation is my way of continuing the extraordinary journey of one remarkable dog and i owe trakr
that. there's not a day that goes by that i don't think about trakr. but i nont know if the puppies contribute to that or not. i just think he always had and always will have a special place in my heart. and these puppies, they're certainly going to complement that. >> boy. tune in to cnn's hourlong special "giving in focus." on christmas day at 1:00 p.m. eastern time. you can also catch an encore presentation on december 26th at 3:00 p.m. could it be a major shift in the war on terrorists? a new battleground in the fight against the taliban. i'd like one of those desserts and some coffee. - sure, cake or pie? - pie. - apple or cherry? - cherry. oil or cream? oil or cream?
cream. some use hydrogenated oil. reddi-wip uses real dairy cream. nothing's more real than reddi-wip. hey, we have a surprise coming up for tony. 2005 got a producer talking in his ear right now. he doesn't know this is coming. all i can tell you is stick with us for the rest of the hour and you will see mr. tony harris go all twinkle toes.
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santa claus, a moment ago, helping to welcome back 170 members of indian's national guard. these hugs, i just want to linger on these pictures here. these hugs a long time coming. the unit has been in iraq for a year. we got a few more here? let me know when we get close here to running out of video. this is good stuff. okay. we're about to run out. as for the war in afghanistan, it appears most of you are against it. a new/opinion research poll finds 55% of americans oppose the war. 43% favor it. interestingly, 59% of respondents say they support president obama's decision to send more troops over there. 39% oppose that decision. a new front is opening up in the war against al qaeda. yemeni sources confirm the u.s. military is using drones to fight the terrorists groups in yemen. paula newton reports. >> reporter: it's the latest al qaeda battleground.
yemen. the terrain as wild and unforgiving as afghanistan and a weak government is fighting rebel movements in both the north and the south. u.s. and u.n. officials say al qaeda is exploiting what could be a growing sanctuary for terror training and operations. air strikes reported on terror strongholds in recent days come as little surprise, but some media outlets like iran's press tv are portraying the air strikes against al qaeda in the south as being american led. it was the same on the russia today network when it described strikes against separatist rebels in the north. >> now the rebels say the u.s. has joined the israelis. >> reporter: other rebel sources told journalists the saudi air force flying american-made planes were responsible for some of the attacks. while cnn cannot independently verify any of those claims, a yemeni government source who has
been briefed on the matter tells cnn american drones have been key in providing intelligence for air strikes against al qaeda. some u.s. senators say they must do all they can to deprive al qaeda of a safe haven. >> we have limited options at this point. we should go after them in yemen. it means we should make sure that they cannot have safe havens in yemen. >> reporter: and yet yemen, a poor, struggling nation, with a large porous border with saudi arabia and a short distance to somalia could become a hub for extremists to plan and launch attacks. even u.n. officials concede the u.s. and its allies may have little choice but to go after al qaeda in yemen so it can continue to keep the terrorist organization on the run. >> we're not going to eliminate al qaeda, just through killing people and finding them in these difficult areas of the world, but i think that there has been great strides made in reducing the appeal of al qaeda and forcing them into these sort of more limited areas of operation.
>> reporter: u.n. and u.s. officials just back from yemen agree, in the year to come, this vulnerable country will continue to be a challenging front line in the battle with al qaeda. paula newton, cnn, london. the mojave desert in the center of a political dust storm. who switched from geico to allstate... saved an average of $473 a year? no way! way. ♪
aren't they usually on the same side? >> they really are, but this time they're choosing opposing sides, tony, and the conflict is really heating up in california right now. senator dianne feinstein introduced legislation this week to make 1 million acres in california's mojave desert off-limits to development and that's to preserve the natural beauty. you can see the proposed monument area right here in red. but here's the catch, developers were targeting that land for large solar power farms. senator feinstein released a statement saying conservation and renewable energy development can and must co-exist in the california desert, and this legislation strikes a careful balance between these sometimes competing concerns. now, although it prohibits energy development within a specific area, it would allow faster and cheaper development of private and other public lands in the desert. to tony? >> so, alison, what's the impact of this? does this complicate renewable energy efforts in california? i'm thinking there are jobs probably at stake here, green jobs.
>> yeah. and you're right. and governor schwarzenegger's office is chiming in about this, saying that it's concerned this will chill investment in the desert and make it harder to build on what it calls some of the best solar fields in the world. there's already evidence that this is happening. solar developers have postponed several proposals for this desert land, and a few projects have been dropped altogether. but the governor's office said it's still confident california will be able to meet its goal of getting one-third of its electricity from renewable resources by the year 2020. but there's a lingering question whether it will all be produced in california. some analysts tough land-protection laws could push solar developers over the border to nevada or arizona. tony, i know you want to read more on the energy stories, go ahead and check out cnnmoney.com or follow us on twitter. >> i will do that. alison, thank you. >> okay. let's get you to your top stories now. the senate health care bill faces one last procedural hurdle this afternoon, that's expected to clear the way for a final vote at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow,
christmas eve. the senate bill would then have to be merged with the house version. sentences have just been handed down in the balloon boy hoax. the boy's father, richard heene, getting 90 days in jail, while his wife, mayumi, got 20 days. both will serve 4 years probation for the phony police report. we are waiting to hear from the brazilian relatives of 9-year-old sean goldman. earlier today, their lawyer said they want to appeal a ruling that gives custody back to sean's american father, david goldman. he has been fighting to get his son back for five years now. lobbyist spending, well, record amounts despite this bad economy. time for us to track the money. braun series 3 with its special shaving head, cuts short hairs just as well as long ones and helps to minimize skin irritation for incredibly smooth skin. new series 3 from braun. and this is the chevy traverse.
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well, you know, they spend big money to influence congress and the federal government, and lobbyists are having a banner year, in spite of the recession. they're on pace to shatter the records set -- wait for it -- yeah, last year. the story now from cnn's lisa sylvester. >> reporter: recession? what recession? certainly not for the lobbyists on capitol hill. the lawyers and representatives of special interest groups are having a banner year, according to the nonpartisan center for responsive politics. >> despite the recession, dee spite all the economic turmoil, lobbyists and the clients of lobbyists are on pace to spend a record amount of money in 2009, breaking even the high-water mark that they set in 2008. it's probably going to be over $3.3 billion, with a "b," that was the number set last year. >> reporter: driving the lobbying boon is the massive health care bill being debated in congress.
leventhal says in the only first nine months of this year, pharma has spent $20 million on lobbying, individual drug companies added even more. pfizer, more than $60 million. eli lily topping $9 million, glaxosmithkline, little over $6 million and johnson & johnson nearly $4 million. spending to get their message across seems to have worked with the pharmaceutical industry, which recently managed to defeat a congressional amendment that would have allowed the reimportation of less expensive prescription drugs from countries like canada, they argued that there was no way to guarantee the safety of the drugs. but health compare is only one of the major issues that congress has taken up. the stimulus bill, proposed new financial regulations and energy reform have also brought out the lobbyists. the gas and oil industry, for example, has spent more than $120 million, the first 9 months of this year. >> the mystery is really making
its voice heard. we've looked at the lobbying on this, and there are about 2,800 lobbyists working on climate change on the hill. >> reporter: the group with the deepest pockets remains, though, the u.s. chamber of commerce, that so far this year has spent more than $65 million on lobbying, 3 times more than anyone else. on the health care bill, it's not just drug companies and insurance companies, who you might expect, that have hired the big lobbying guns but groups like the american beverage association are also jumping in. the organization is actively lobbying to try to keep a soda tax out of the final bill. lisa sylvester, cnn, washington. it is the end of the year, that means it's time to look back on some of your favorite headlines. camry received 5 str crash safety ratings. but only malibu has onstar. big deal. i'll just use my phone. let's say we crashed. whoops, your phone's gone. onstar automatic crash response can call to see if you're ok. if you don't answer, they can automatically send help.
okay. with the countdown to christmas under way, cnn.com is highlighting some popular videos all about the holidays. josh, is this good? you got some good stuff for us? >> i always look for fun stuff to lighten it up. >> good, good. >> let me show you where i'm grabbing it from, cnn.com, if you scroll down, you'll see editors' picks and what you're seeing is the popular videos. the year-end review and stuff for the holidays. i was looking at what was really popular. one of them is popular, it's nice, a behind the scenes at "nutcracker." ballet moms get a look. let's take a look at this. >> all right. >> remembering the steps. that's what i was nervous about. but once i start doing it, it's
also, like, rushing back to me, that i just forget and just do it. when i get called up for the curtain call, i feel really small, but i feel like i have a big part. and i don't worry about, like, what's going on. i'm performing in front of a million people, just makes me feel so good. >> ah, that's a sweet feature. it was put together by our producer, cnn.com, joe parker. and, tony, speak of the "nutcracker" i have surprise for you. >> i'm not surprised. i'm not surprised. >> you knew we were going to go after this. ladies and gentlemen, mr. twinkle toes, mr. tony "twinkle toes" harris. take a look. ♪ hold on, the good steps are coming out. there you go. >> please be good. please be good. >> watch the big finish. watch the big finish. here it comes.
shazam! tony's got the moves. we even made it bigger! wait, we got a version here that makes it even bigger. >> i'm sweating. i can't believe it. i'm sweating. >> we cued up as much as we could. there you go. there you go. all mr. tony harris. j.t. might have brought sexy back. tony is bringing suave back, america. here it goes. dang! what was the words for that in ballet language? what did you do for us? >> i'm sweating! >> oh, beautiful. i'm so happy right now. tony harris was invite thod be a celebrity who performed in one of the performances locally, right? >> josh, i want to see you in my office after. >> it's so worth it! beautiful job. you should feel very proud. america's applauding for you right now. >> i am moving on. >> oh, man. we're going to post it. it will be up on the blog at cnn.com. >> god, i'm sweating. to -- it's the season to give.
we wanted to know what your best gift ever was. the best gift you've ever received. oh, man, i got to get through this. that's the question on our blog. megan wrote, josh, i want to see you. my little pony was always my favorite gift and honestly still would be. not one of those new ones, though. at this point, awesome socks are pretty high up there. but that was the worst gift when i was a kid. i'm with you on that, meaghan. denise said, one year when i was about 8, i got what i asked for, a pogo-stick. when i walked out and saw it there, it was the best day of my life. i jumped on the pogo-stick until the rubber came off of the bottom and the foot peg, and it squeaked horribly with every step. the best gift was our daughter riley, it was definitely a memorable christmas, one spent
in the operating room with holiday music playing in the background. the doctor with huge ornaments, his earrings! and a holiday dinner of yummy hospital food. we still want to hear from you. just go to cnn.com/tony. still to come -- no martinis, shaken or stirred. no babes. and a used toyota camry instead of an astin-martin. i can't get out of this segment, can i? we'll be back in a moment. you're in the "cnn newsroom." ♪
the afghan james bond, no martini, no girl, no astin martin, but he has a role to play in the country's unification. cnn's frederik pleitgen reports from kabul. >> the terrorists have stolen an experimental nuclear device. >> reporter: and now they want to blow up kabul. only one man can save the day. if you haven't guessed by now, it's the afghan james bond, called secret agent nijab, the savior, a fictional hero in a country where violence is all too real. his identity is never revealed on screen, until now. afghanistan's 007 is played by a
man called kassim elmi. >> he has to make sure that that bomb, that nuclear bomb, doesn't explode. >> reporter: instead of an aston martin, he drives a used toyota camry. >> what's happening, man? ♪ >> reporter: that's not the only difference. this is not a hollywood james bond, the screenwriter says, there's no alcohol and no love story. it's an afghan james bond. it's a low-budget movie. production costs, $2,500. none of the cast has ever acted before. and the special effects, well, let's say they had to improvise. so, you've got a fire cart behind the stack of colored paint. a little dish taped to his chest. >> we couldn't get rid of the smoke bomb, so instead we had all the guards smoking
cigarettes. >> reporter: what started as a small project has gained momentum. the filmmakers say they want to take the movie to international film festivals. it has an important message. set in a stable and prosperous afghanistan of the future, secret agent is only shown in shadows, so in a war-torn ethnically divided country, all afghans can rally behind their hero. >> and anyone could be a james bond, could be working in such an efficient way, and could have the same kind of love for the country. >> reporter: in the end, nijat single handedly defeats the bad guys and disarms the nukes. >> it's a fantasy that one man, our james bond, can take care of, you know, the problem and save -- save afghanistan from another, you know, disaster. ♪ >> reporter: so afghanistan's first 007 has to do more than just save his country.